Freelancer Pricing: How To Determine Fair Rates And Budget For Your Projects as a founder!

As a founder or entrepreneur, you be cognizant of outsourcing projects to freelancers is a strategic decision that can bring immense benefits and you’ll likely finish your project cost-effectively. But, let’s say you need an on-demand freelancer for a short-term project but you haven’t decided on your project budget yet.

Of course, it’s hard to decide when we bite off more than we can chew, right? However, to ensure a successful partnership it’s crucial to determine a fair rate and budget.

So, buckle up and get ready for an entertaining and enlightening journey where we’ll explore the ins and outs of freelancer pricing and why nailing down the right rates is essential.

Freelancer rates and  the industry landscape!

First things first, let’s get the lay of the land. We guess you already know that the freelance industry is booming, right? In fact, recent data reveals that the number of freelancers has skyrocketed in the past decade.

Moreover, guess the trending cause, right now? None other than “Mass layoff.”

But, why is it so important to understand fair pricing?

With such a growing competitive marketplace, it’s hard to find the best freelancer that fits your project. While sometimes if your luck shines, you get into 2 scenarios:

  1. First, you find a freelancer whose service fee appears to be too good to be true but their work is not up to the bar.

  2. Second, a freelancer whose work seems to perfect fit after portfolio assessment but whose budget is too high!!

So, what do you do then? Choose which one? A heck of a dilemma.

Therefore, it makes it clear that by understanding the value of fair rates for freelance services, you can attract, negotiate and retain top talent from the pool of freelancers while optimizing costs.

Additionally, effective budgeting can enable you to allocate resources wisely and manage project finances efficiently, ensuring a win-win situation.

Tips to determining fair rates and budgeting for your projects. 

Here are some key considerations and valuable tips and insights to help you navigate the intricacies of determining fair rates and budgeting for your projects, empowering you to unlock success in your freelance collaborations.

So, let’s get started!

#1 Understand the factors affecting freelancer pricing 

Now, let’s elucidate the factors that impact freelancer pricing. It’s no secret that skillsets and expertise play a significant role in determining rates.  And did you know how a freelancer’s level of expertise, specialized skills, and experience influence their pricing strategy?

Let’s see how it works:

  1. Skills and expertise:

Freelancers with specialized skills and expertise in high-demand areas often command higher rates. For example, a web developer with expertise in cutting-edge technologies like AI or blockchain may charge more due to the scarcity of such skills in the market.

Similarly, a copywriter with a proven track record of crafting engaging content can justify higher rates based on their expertise. The key is to assess the value their skillset brings to your project.

  1. Experience:

Experience plays a significant role in pricing as freelancers with a wealth of experience often bring added value to projects. Many professionals tend to charge based on the years of experience they have.

Well, their experience allows them to deliver high-quality work efficiently and navigate complex challenges effectively. Thus, they charge higher rates due to their proven track record and ability to deliver results.

According to a study by the Freelancers Union, it is revealed that freelancers with over 10 years of experience tend to charge 50% more than those with less than 5 years of experience.

  1. Market demand and competition:

In areas with high demand for specific skills and a limited supply of freelancers, rates tend to be higher. Conversely, in saturated markets where competition is fierce, rates may be more competitive.

Understanding the market dynamics in your industry and geographical location is essential to gauge fair rates.

According to a study by Freelancers Union, the top 10 highest-paying freelancer's skills in 2021 included specialized fields like blockchain development, robotics, and machine learning, reflecting the impact of market demand on pricing.

  1. Portfolio and reputation:

A well-established freelancer with an impressive portfolio and positive client feedback may charge higher rates based on their proven ability to deliver exceptional results.

Wouldn’t you be willing to pay a premium for reliable and quality work? Well, most clients do.

Research by LinkedIn found that 92% of clients are willing to pay more for freelancers with excellent feedback and ratings, highlighting the importance of reputation in pricing.

#2  Research industry standards and benchmarks 

Researching industry standards for freelancer pricing is like having a compass in the vast landscape of project budgets. It empowers founders like you to make informed decisions and ensure fair compensation for freelancers.

Let’s delve into the importance of research.

Why researching industry standards matters: 

As a savvy founder, you understand that knowledge is power. By researching industry standards, you gain valuable insights into prevailing rates for specific services and skill sets.

  • This understanding helps you avoid the pitfalls of overpaying or underpaying freelancers.

  • Ultimately attracting and retaining top talent within your budget.

So, let’s dig a little deeper for a clear understanding!

Online platforms and resources for pricing benchmarks: 

The internet is a treasure trove of information, and when it comes to pricing benchmarks, numerous platforms, and resources can guide you.

Such as the freelancing websites, or industry-specific forums and communities, such as Reddit or LinkedIn groups, provide valuable discussions and anecdotes that shed light on fair pricing.

These platforms can be your go-to sources for exploring industry standards and gathering data.

Analyzing and interpreting data for fair rate determination:

Now, that you have a plethora of data at your fingertips, it’s time to make sense of it all. Here are some tips to help you analyze and interpret the gathered information effectively.

Tips for Analyzing and interpreting data #1

Identify relevant data

Narrow down your research to data that aligns closely with the services and expertise you seek. This targeted approach ensures that you obtain accurate and applicable pricing benchmarks.

Consider different factors

Pricing is influenced by various factors, such as experience, geographical location, and project complexity. While analyzing the data, take these factors into account to obtain a more nuanced understanding of fair rates.

Look for trends and ranges

Rather than focusing on individual rates, observe the trends and ranges within the data. This broader perspective gives you a better sense of what is considered reasonable within your industry.

Seek context

Data alone may not paint the full picture. Engage in discussions with freelancers, industry professionals, and peers to gain insights and context behind the rates.  

Adjust for project specifics

Remember that each project is unique. While industry standards provide a starting point, you may need to make adjustments based on the specific requirements scope, and timeline of your project.

Remember* research is an ongoing process. Industry trends, rates, and benchmarks can evolve. Stay updated with the latest information.

#3 Assessing project scope and requirements: The cornerstone of pricing

Ah, the devil is indeed in the details! Understanding project scope and requirements is vital for accurate pricing. This is where the foundation of accurate pricing is laid.

  1. What is the significance of understanding project scope and requirements?

  • Think of it as the roadmap that guides your project and sets the boundaries for what needs to be accomplished.
  • By having a clear understanding of the project, you can effectively communicate your expectations to freelancers and ensure everyone is on the same page.
  1. Complexity: The pricing puzzle piece!

Complexity is a key factor that significantly influences pricing decisions. As the complexity of a project increases, the level of expertise and effort required from freelancers also arises.

For example:

Developing a simple brochure website may have a different price range compared to building a complex e-commerce platform with custom functionalities.

Simply put, understanding the complexity of your project enables you to align your pricing with the level of expertise and effort required.

  1. Time commitment: time is money.

Time is a valuable resource for both you as a founder and the freelancers you hire. The amount of time required to complete a project directly impacts pricing.

When estimating the time commitment, consider these factors such as:

  • Research

  • Planning

  • Design

  • Development

  • Revisions

  • Any potential iterations or feedback loops.

A project with tight deadlines or requiring immediate attention may necessitate higher rates due to the freelancer’s availability and the need to prioritize your project.

Therefore, accurately assessing the time commitment allows for fair compensation for the freelancer’s dedication and timely delivery.

  1. Deliverables: Defining value!

Another crucial consideration in price decisions is the deliverables that you expect from freelancers.

Clearly defining the expected outcomes, such as specific design files, completed code, or a comprehensive report, allows freelancers to gauge the amount of work required to meet those deliverables.

For instance, a freelance writer charging per word count may have different rates for a short blog post versus an in-depth whitepaper. By aligning the deliverables with pricing, you ensure a fair exchange of value and help freelancers accurately estimate the effort required.

Examples and scenarios: Bringing it all together! 

These scenarios demonstrate how project complexity, time commitment, and deliverables influence pricing decisions in real-world situations.



Complexity level


You’re launching a new mobile app and require a freelance developer with expertise in both IOS and Android platforms.

Complex and requires specialized skills, so the rates for such a project are likely to be higher.


You need a freelance graphic designer to create custom logos and branding materials for your business.

The pricing will depend on factors like the complexity of the design, the number of iterations required, and the final deliverables, such as vector files or print-ready designs.


You’re hiring a freelance content writer to produce a series of blog posts.

The rates may vary based on the word count, the research involved, SEO optimization, and any additional service like topic ideation, or post promotion.

Therefore, evaluate time, effort, and project complexity beforehand.   

#4 Calculating a fair rate: The balancing act!

Did you know that determining a fair rate is like performing a balancing act? It requires finding the perfect equilibrium between the “value you receive” as a founder and the “compensation you offer” to freelancers.

To help you strike this balance, let’s explore various pricing models, their pros and cons, and provide you with a step-by-step guide to calculating a fair rate based on these models.

  1. Hourly rate:

The hourly rate model is a popular choice, where freelancers charge based on the number of hours worked. It offers flexibility and transparency as you pay for the actual time spent.

Pros: Transparency, flexibility, and payment for actual work time.

Cons: Longer hours can increase costs, and efficiency can vary.

Formulae: Hourly rate = (Desired annual income/ Billable hours per year) + Overhead costs per hour.

  1. Project-based rate:

In this model, freelancers provide a fixed rate for the entire project.

Pros: Predictability in budgeting, simplifies negotiations.

Cons: Requires accurate project scoping to avoid cost overruns or scope creep.

Formulae: Project-based rate = Estimated hours of the project x hourly rate.

  1. Value-based rate:

Value-based pricing focuses on the value delivered to your business. It considers factors like the impact of the project on revenue, cost savings, or overall business growth.

Pros: Aligns incentives, and rewards for the value they deliver.

Cons: Subjective measurement of value, requires clear criteria.

Formulae: Value-based rate = Project’s estimated value to the business x percentage allocation for freelancer.

  1. Retainer or subscription model:

In this model, freelancers offer their services on an ongoing basis for a fixed monthly fee.

Pros: Fosters long-term partnerships, availability for evolving needs. 

Cons: Accurate workload estimation is essential to avoid overpaying or under-utilizing resources.

Formulae: Monthly retainer rate = Monthly workload estimate x hourly rate.

  1. Hybrid models:

The hybrid model combines elements from different pricing approaches to create a custom solution. For example, you can set a fixed project rate with an additional hourly rate for any extra work.

This flexibility allows you to tailor pricing to the specific needs of your project.

Pros: Flexibility, fairness, and budget control.

Cons: Needs accurate evaluation of complexity otherwise it might arise potential disagreements and variable costs.

Formulae: Hybrid rate = Fixed project rate + (additional hours x hourly rate)

#5 Budgeting for projects as a founder: The secret sauce to success

What is the budget for a project?

A project's budget is a financial plan that specifies how much money will be spent on various aspects of the project and how it will be financed. Budget plans assist keep expenses in check and projects on track to be finished within their allotted budgets.

Typical components of a project budget:

Project cost

All of the money spent on a project, including direct and indirect costs like labor, supplies, and equipment, are referred to here as "project costs."

Project time line

Revenue from the project includes all expected sources of funding such as grants, contracts, and investments.

Money spent

The overall budget is arrived at by adding up the estimated costs of each line item.

Budget tracking & monitoring

To make sure the project stays within its financial limits and that any changes to the project are reflected in the budget, the budget should be tracked and monitored on a regular basis. Thus, use effective budget monitoring strategies.

Project managers need a budget to keep tabs on spending, determine where their money is going, and choose how to prioritize different needs as the project progresses.

Why is a budget important for projects?

Simply put, a budget is vital for project success as it facilitates resource allocation, cost control, financial planning, risk management, informed decision-making, and effective stakeholder communication.

Thus, it ensures that your project stays on track, within financial boundaries, and maximizes the chances of achieving desired outcomes.

Include these details in your company's project budget.

Task category

Wage estimates

Estimated labor time

Material Costs

Full Task Breakdown

Line Items (i.e. travel expenses)

Fixed Item Costs

Miscellaneous Cost

Planned vs Actual Cost Comparison

Overall Total Cost Estimate

Total Labor Time

Tips on creating a realistic budget that considers freelancers' rates! 

As previously stated, identify project requirements, conduct market research, determine resource needs, obtain freelancer estimates, evaluate quotations and negotiate, consider hidden costs (platform fees, taxes, currency conversion fees, etc.), allow for contingency, and communicate.

And the best thing you can do is gather knowledge from the PMBOK guide.

PMBOK technique?

One widely recognized technique in project management is the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

  • The PMBOK guide outlines best practices and processes for managing projects across various industries. It covers areas such as project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and project closure.

  • While the PMBOK guide doesn’t specifically focus on budgeting techniques, it provides a comprehensive framework for project management, including budgeting considerations.

It emphasizes the importance of proper planning, cost estimation, and monitoring to ensure successful project delivery within budget.

PMBOK Technique Related to Budgeting



Cost Estimation Techniques

Analogous estimation, parametric estimation, and bottom-up estimation.

Cost Baseline

Cost of labor, materials, equipment, & any other project-related expenses.

Earned Value Management (NVM)

A technique to track and monitor project performance against the budgeted cost. EVM integrates measurements of scope, schedule, and cost to provide a comprehensive view of project progress.

Cost Control

It involves tracking variances, conducting cost reviews, and taking corrective actions as necessary.

The consequences of the wrong move?

The consequences of making the wrong move during the process of determining the project budget can have significant impacts on the overall project's success.

Here are some potential consequences:

  1. Budget overruns

  2. Scope creep

  3. Resource allocation challenges

  4. Stakeholder discontent

  5. Financial constraints

To mitigate these consequences, it is crucial to follow a thorough and diligent process when determining the project budget.


Finally, apply the knowledge gained to ensure successful project outcomes. Thank you for reading, and we wish you all the best in your future projects!

“Knowledge gained is as useless as pride if filed away and never applied.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich


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